WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Danny Cross 05.31.2012
 
 
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

The Enquirer today offered a dramatic headline on its front page story, asking the figurative question, “Who will blink first on Music Hall deal?” Although Mayor Mark Mallory is able to literally blink, such involuntary action will not directly affect his stance on giving away Music Hall, which he is still opposed to. Cincinnati's outstanding stadium tax bonds were downgraded by Moody's Investor Services, partially as a result of the county's sale of Drake Hospital last year and its unwillingness to cut the property tax rollback that helped convince rich people to vote for the tax in the first place. Gov. John Kasich this week signed an executive order allowing the Ohio Lottery Commission to expedite new rules allowing slot machines at racetracks. The state's seven racetracks are expected to begin submitting applications for the 17,500 machines within the next few months. Condoleeze Rice endorsed Mitt Romney, as the Republican presidential candidate struggles to differentiate his foreign policy from Obama's. A Seattle man yesterday killed five people before shooting himself as authorities closed in on him. Various security cameras caught footage of the suspect entering a cafe, where he allegedly shot and killed four people. He reportedly killed another person during a carjacking. According to The Seattle Times, the suspect is Ian Lee Stawicki, 40, of Seattle, whose brother says he is mentally ill. Florida Democrats are wondering what's up with Republican Gov. Rick Scott's effort to purge illegal voters from the state's rolls before this year's elections, partially in response to legal voters being booted. Job creation: light. Unemployment claims: slightly up. Economy: growing a little slower than expected. Details here Ever ordered a medium soda only to realize that the giant cup doesn't fit in a normal car cup holder? New York City could soon ban large sodas and other sugary drinks.
 
 

Title Bout

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 30, 2012
The well-funded organization We Are Ohio announced on May 21 that it will be taking up redistricting laws as its next major initiative by joining forces with Ohio Voters First, an organization that was created in response to a Republican redistricting plan that created 12 solidly Republican districts and four largely Democratic districts.   
by Danny Cross 05.25.2012
 
 
josh_mandel headshot

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has returned more than $100,000 in campaign contributions in response to an FBI investigation into 21 donors who had no record of giving to federal campaigns and many appearing to have low incomes. Mandel, a Republican, is running against incombent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown. Mandel's campaign treasurer Kathryn Kessler sent a letter to donors explaining that any contributions appearing to be under investigation would be refunded. From The Toledo Blade: Although the campaign provided a copy of the letter to The Blade, it would not explain the timing of the decision or how long it has been aware of the federal probe. The Blade revealed the unusual pattern of contributions in August. The company's owner, Benjamin Suarez, and 16 of his employees (plus some of their spouses) gave about $200,000 to Mr. Mandel and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R., Wadsworth) last year. Each of those donors gave $5,000, the maximum allowable amount, to one or both candidates. The Ohio Senate yesterday passed new fracking regulations, and the final version caused some environmental organizations to change their stance on the bill. The Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club had both been neutral on the legislation until changes were made forcing anyone suing over chemical trade secrets to show current or potential harm, according to The Enquirer. The regulations are part of Kasich's new energy bill and easily passed both the Senate and House and is expected to be signed by Kasich soon. Cincinnati Public Schools says it will apply for the latest available federal education grants, which amount to nearly $700 million. The grants are geared toward helping schools proceed with reform and innovation. According to a new poll, President Obama leads Mitt Romney in Ohio by six percentage points. Wonder if Obama's “cow pie of distortion” speech had anything to do with his lead. The John Edwards trial has entered day six of deliberations. United Nations inspectors have reportedly found uranium in Iran enriched beyond the highest levels previously reported. One diplomat said the measure could actually be a measurement error, though the reading could also mean that Iran is closer to producing bomb-grade uranium than previously thought. Scientists might be one step closer to creating birth control for men after U.K. scientists found a gene used to enable sperm to mature. From USA Today: “Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs.” Facebook's initial public offering didn't go entirely as expected, and some investors are getting refunds after technical problems and other issues marred the company's first week of trading. The Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves last night, winning their sixth in a row and overtaking the St. Louis Cardinal for first place in the NL Central.
 
 

Anti-Fracking Roadshow Kicks Off

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The first in a series of nine events in cities across Ohio, culminating with a rally at the Columbus statehouse, kicked off in Cincinnati last week to protest the use of fracking across the state of Ohio.    
by Danny Cross 05.16.2012
 
 
james craig

Morning News and Stuff

The ongoing saga involving Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig and his nonexistent policing powers will continue into July, as a hearing scheduled for Thursday has been continued. Craig's attorneys will argue in front of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission that his prior experience, and certification in three other states, should exempt him from a state rule requiring all officers pass a certification exam before earning police powers. Craig believes he was hired to do things other than study for an entry-level policing test, and some states would already have certified him. A statewide ban on texting while driving moved through the Ohio House of Representatives yesterday and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. The law makes the writing, sending or reading of a text message while driving a secondary offense, meaning officers may not pull over an adult driver for the act. Teens, however, under House Bill 99 will be prohibited from using any electronic device other than GPS and may be pulled over for it. Kasich on Tuesday followed through with the GOP plan to overturn its own controversial election law that was to go before voters in November. State Republicans and election officials now say there's no reason for the law to go in front of voters thanks to the 300,000 signatures gathered by President Obama's re-election campaign and other opponents, but opponents of the election law point out that the repeal still reaffirms an election law change that would end early voting the weekend before an election. Democrats plan to keep the issue on the ballot. But people on both sides of the issue say there's no precedent for a legislative repeal of a bill that also is the subject of a referendum, so it's unclear how a court might rule if a legal challenge is filed. Jennifer Brunner, a former Democratic secretary of state and a leader in the Fair Elections Ohio campaign that brought the referendum, said Tuesday that the action taken by Gov. John Kasich and Legislature doesn't force the removal of the question from November ballots. "Since this issue is a case of first impression for any court, we do not see the statement of the Secretary of State to be determinative on this issue," Brunner said in an email. "The issue remains on the ballot." More drama from Columbus: Republicans are moving forward with a test program requiring some welfare recipients to submit to drug testing in order to continue receiving benefits. Opponents say the process stigmatizes the poor, while the GOP says it's just a simple process involving poor people paying the upfront costs for drug tests, being reimbursed if they pass and living on the streets for six months if they fail.Northern Kentucky leaders plan to use the revitalization of Over-the-Rhine as a model for reinvesting in their urban core. A nonprofit organization has raised $10 million during the past five years to get started spurring commercial and residential investment. Two Kentucky high school students who were turned away from their senior prom for arriving as a same-sex couple have argued that if their Catholic high school wants to ban students based on upholding the church's teachings, such a ban should include couples who have had premarital sex and kids who plan to get wasted after the prom. Apparently viewers of Harry's Law, which was set in Cincinnati and used a stage-version of Arnold's as the lawyer gang's regular hangout, are too old to attract advertising dollars despite their relatively high numbers. The show ranked very low among viewers ages 18 to 49, the demographic most advertisers care about. In fact, its young-adult numbers were beneath those for "Prime Suspect," a cop show that NBC canceled earlier this season, and roughly on par with those of "Off Their Rockers," the Betty White show about senior citizens pulling pranks on younger people. "It was a difficult decision," an NBC executive said Sunday, quoted by the site Deadline.com. "Everyone here respects 'Harry's Law' a lot but we were finding it hard to grow the audience for it. Its audience skewed very old and it is hard to monetize that." President Obama raised $44 million during April for his and other Democratic campaigns. John Boehner says that when the federal government raises the debt limit again America can expect another prolonged fight about cuts. George W. Bush has found “freedom” wherever he ended up after having little to offer the GOP after his tumultuous two terms as president. From ABC News:We don't see much of Bush these days. He's the president that a lot of people would like to forget, still so toxic that he's widely considered more likely to hurt than help the Republican Party by participating in the 2012 campaign. Bush's speech Tuesday morning was a rare exception. He spoke in a small, nondescript room to about 200 people about democracy activists, promoting a human rights campaign that's part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. His presence on the national stage is perhaps best seen in his presence on the small stage at 1777 F Street. At the end of the affair, Bush and his wife were called back up to be presented with writings by Czech human rights icon Vaclav Havel. They posed for pictures as the audience clapped, and when they were done, Bush glanced around as if unsure what to do next. He walked back to his seat, but then quickly walked back onto the stage and behind the lectern. He leaned forward into the microphone, paused, and said slyly, "Thanks for coming." Bush waited a second or two. Then he said, "See ya later."He waved, and then he left. Is U.S. energy independence a pipe dream? This article says no. Apple might soon give you a larger iPhone screen. A private rocket launch this week could be the start of commercial space travel. Here are some important tips about sunscreen as summer approaches and the circle in the sky threatens to burn off our skin.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.11.2012
at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
dont-frack-ohio-flickr-jayson-shenk

Anti-Fracking Roadshow Kicks Off in Cincinnati

Advocates spread concerns over dangers in Kasich's energy plan

The first in a series of nine events in cities across Ohio, culminating with a rally at the Columbus statehouse, kicks off in Cincinnati tomorrow to protest the use of fracking across the state of Ohio. The event will take place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church at 103 William Howard Taft Road. It's part of the Don't Frack Ohio Spring Roadshow, a project brainstormed by 350.org, which heads a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. According to Danny Berchenko, an Ohio organizer for 350.org, the roadshow is a much-needed venue for dialogue to discuss the problems fracking in Ohio poses to people and communities, including those related to public health, climate change and even potential to cause natural disasters such as earthquakes. "Kasich's office is not doing its job to protect people or communities — we need to focus on putting people to work in safe environments and employ people in sustainable, clean energy jobs," said Berchenko. Berchenko says that Saturday's event will involve a mix of discussing the generalities of fracking, why action is necessary, and tactics and strategies for how communities can rally together to strategically protect themselves from fracking and protest Kasich's energy plan, which heavily focuses on bringing frackers to Ohio, an integral part of his economic plan. Want to know more about fracking? Watch a kid with an Irish accent explain:  
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.03.2012
Posted In: News at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
medicaid

Changes in Ohio Medicaid Coming Next January

Experts weigh pros and cons in transition

In yet another effort to save tax dollars and fill holes in the state budget, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his health care advisers will streamline the state’s Medicaid system by altering the availability to care plans and condensing care regions. There are currently 38 health plans and 10 regions in the state of Ohio, which provide services to more than 1.6 million Ohioans each year. When changes in the system are implemented January 1, 2013, the availability will condense to five statewide plans and only three geographic regions, according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).  The change is billed by Kasich's office as a way to simplify the way it offers coverage, eventually making a more sustainable, efficiently run program, which will supposedly trump the short-term inconveniences caused by the switch. According to The Enquirer, Medicaid costs the state of Ohio around $4.8 billion each year — nearly one fifth of the state’s budget. Those costs continue to grow. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the new plan will also mandate higher care standards and offer financial incentives to doctors, hospitals and other providers to help improve care quality and patient health.Selected managed care organizations include: Aetna Better Health of Ohio, CareSource, Meridian Health Plan, Paramount Advantage and United Healthcare Community Plan of Ohio. Managed care organizations who lost the bid include incumbent providers Centene, AmeriGroup and Molina Healthcare, among others. According to the Wall Street Journal, the loss of business marks a blow for those providers, who have benefited from covering "dual-eligible" patients — those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services. WSJ reports that dual-eligible patients are seen as a $300 billion opportunity for managed care firms. Because Ohio is pushing to start better coordinating care for dual-eligible patients, dropped insurers will likely lose a piece of that pie. Streamlining the selection of managed care organizations available should help, in turn, streamline processes for dual-eligible patients, who often encounter difficultly in coordinating coverage with both Medicaid and Medicare services, says Jim Ashmore, performance improvement section chief for Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services (HCJFS).ODJFS reports that the new providers were selected using a fair, through and open application process that was “based on applicants’ past performance in coordinating care and providing high-quality health outcomes.” Although the changes are generally perceived as a positive move forward, service providers, including doctors and health centers, acknowledge that the disruption in services could cause serious confusion when recipients are forced to find new providers and obtain new Medicaid cards. In Kentucky, the three private managed care companies which provided Medicaid services to more than 500,000 patients have received an influx of care-related complaints, including inefficiency in authorizing services and payment issues.  Ashmore challenges the notion that the transition will be a bumpy one, noting patients have little to worry about: When the transition is made, everyone will likely receive an enrollment package in the mail that will outline steps to switch over new care providers.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 04.19.2012
at 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Ohio's Heartbeat Bill Drawing National Attention

One of nation's harshest anti-abortion bills still stalled in Ohio Senate

"WE ARE ABOUT TO END ALMOST EVERY ABORTION IN OHIO!" proclaims the heading at heartbeatbill.com, the brainchild of the bill's most staunch supporters. That's a terrifyingly bold statement, and it's one that's not entirely true. What is true, though, is that the longtime movement by steadfast anti-abortionists to pass a bill with the power to overturn Roe v. Wade and prevent the majority of abortions within the state has grown steam and caused pro-choicers around the country to perk up and say, "Really?"If you don't know much about the bill, here are the basics: If passed, the legislation would effectively outlaw just about every abortion in Ohio. That includes no exceptions would be granted due to rape, incest or threats to the mother's health. If a heartbeat could be detected in the fetus, an abortion would be halted from moving forward. To be exact, the proposed bill, HB 125, would do three things: 1. It requires the abortionist to check to see if the unborn baby the pregnant woman is carrying has a heartbeat. Sec. 2919.19(C).2. If the child has been found to have a heartbeat, it requires the abortionist to let the mother know this. Sec. 2919.19(D)3. If the baby is found to have a detectable heartbeat, that child is protected from being killed by an elective abortion. Sec. 2919.19(E).Keep in mind that a fetus's heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks after conception; a point in time when many women won't even know they're pregnant. Heartbeat bill advocates recently ran a full-page ad in The Columbus Dispatch, which features a letter from Dr. Jack Willke, a proponent of the bill at the forefront of the movement, pleading Republican senators to bring the bill to a Senate vote. "Tell the Ohio GOP Senate to pass the strongest Heartbeat Bill now — or we will work to replace them with people who will," says the ad. A poll released by Quinnipiac University in January suggests that the issue does hold steam among a marked amount of Ohio voters; 50 percent of Ohio voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases while 44 percent say it should be illegal in all or most cases. Those are fairly staggering numbers, considering Roe v. Wade has been around since 1973 protecting women's right to choose what to do with their bodies (until viability, that is — when a fetus could sustain itself outside a mother's womb). Jezebel.com just gave Cleveland, Ohio a spot on its not-so prestigious list of "The Ten Scariest Places to Have Ladyparts in America." Even with the anti-abortion supporters in the minority, it's a bit terrifying that the gap is so slim. And if voters are really as evenly divided as the statistics suggest, we've got some major reform to do. "The law's bullshit and will likely be blocked from ever being enforced by a judge with some damn sense, but, like most crazy abortion laws, it's the thought that counts," says the Jezebel article. So it's true: The atmosphere regarding reproductive rights in Ohio is one that is markedly unforgiving. What does that mean for Ohio women? Right now, the bill continues to stall in the Senate, as it has for more than a year. Even if the bill should somehow go before the Senate for a vote, there's a strong likelihood it would be struck down, perhaps even weakening the pro-life movement, should a precedent further supporting Roe v. Wade be set. Still, the anti-abortion force in Ohio is one to be reckoned with, and it champions a voice that's had a pervasive presence since Roe v. Wade days. Certainly crazier legislative changes have happened; what if, by some chance, the bill was passed? Only time will tell. Faith2Action, a staunch pro-life organization driving much of the support behind the bill's passage, has organized the "Final Push" rally on May 19 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to assemble support for the bill's approval in Senate. The event will commence with a worship and prayer session, and conclude with a rally to get the Senate's attention.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 04.18.2012
Posted In: Equality, Ethics at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
kasich_2

Kasich Office Shows Gender Wage Gap

Governor's male staffers earn 56 percent more than women

As of late, the media has been shoving it in my face that being a woman kind of sucks. Yesterday in particular was a painful reminder that aside from women's highly publicized birth control and body woes as of late, our male counterparts still earn more than $10,000 per year more the rest of us working females. April 17 was "Equal Pay Day," a holiday created to illuminate the gap between the wages of women and men, even in the 21st century. We've been "celebrating" the holiday in April since 1996 in order to signify the point in the year into which women must work (on top of the previous year) to earn what male counterparts earned in one year. Jezebel reported it best with a lovely chart illustrating all the things men can buy with the extra moolah they make (I'd pay off my student loans and then buy a modest beach bungalow on the Mediterranean. You?).  Political website plunderbund.com recently took the time to dig up some even more grim statistics — ones that bode far more ominously for anyone working under Ohio Gov. John Kasich's regime. A simple examination of public salary records found massive inequities between Kasich's male staffers and female staffers. The findings, which highlight the biweekly earnings of employees working in the governor's office, showcase that Kasich's male staffers earn a whopping 56 percent more than female staffers. The below image shows women's salaries highlighted in yellow, while men's are left blue. Granted, the positions of the people named aren't listed, but the gap exists nonetheless. "Of the 34 people listed as Governor’s office employees, only 4 of the top 17 paid staffers are women (76 percent are men). And only 4 of the bottom 17 are men (76 percent are women)," reports Plunderbund. If you compute the average salaries earned by men and women in Kasich's office, respectively, you'll find the numbers even more stark; $77,730.88 versus $49,498.52. According to the latest Census statistics, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. If the numbers in Kasich's offices meshed up with that statistic, women working in his office should, in theory, be making about $60,000 compared to men's $77,730.88. What gives? Perhaps it has something to do with Kasich simply not wanting to employ women in high-power positions in his office, instead relegating them to lower positions; it was Kasich, after all, who famously said, "I had a woman campaign manager, I have a woman lieutenant governor, I have a woman finance chairman, and I’m married to a woman with two daughters, OK? I’ve said all along, I really wish I could get some guys around me."Either way, the gap in Kasich's office should raise some eyebrows about staffing and salary decisions by the state governor. Critics of the existing pay gap nationwide insist that it continues to triumph because of occupational and lifestyle choices (e.g., not as many women pursue high-paying, elected positions), "rigorous analysis of data by labor economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn found that over 40 percent of the pay gap cannot be explained by such differences, concluding that 'there is evidence that…discrimination does still continue to exist.'" according to this article published by the Center for American Progress, an independent, nonpartisan educational institute.
 
 

Seelbach to Introduce Motion to Repeal Pit Bull Ban

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 11, 2012
City Councilman Chris Seelbach plans to draft a motion that will take out breed-discriminatory language targeting pit bulls and harshen punishments for negligent owners in Cincinnati. Once the motion is drafted, it will need a minimum of five signatures from other City Council members.   

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